open sign on business door

Reeling from months of governmental orders that required all restaurants to close their doors, Chez Quis was elated to re-open and welcome back its diners, even at a reduced capacity. But elation quickly turned to despair when Chez Quis learned that one of its longtime customers, Abe Froman, had sued the restaurant for allegedly contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) while dining there. Has Chez Quis jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Continue Reading Stay Shut Down or Be Sued? The Risk to Your Business from COVID-19 Premises-Liability Claims

The extraordinary measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to cause constitutional clashes. My last post’s opening hypothetical about members of a congregation being ticketed for attending church services has now become a reality, and the Supreme Court has given its first hint on how it would strike the balance between fundamental constitutional rights and the government’s interest in preserving public health.
Continue Reading COVID-19 v. the Constitution: The Conflict Continues

stay home stay safe orderIn an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the county judge has issued a shelter-in-place order that prohibits all public gatherings. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 or 180 days imprisonment. Defying the order, Reverend Elmer Gantry opens his church on Sunday morning to a smaller but still enthusiastic congregation. As the members leave at the end of the service, they are met by a sheriff’s deputy, who hands each of them a ticket for violating the order. Reverend Gantry proclaims that fining people for attending church violates their constitutional right to freely exercise their religion. Will the First Amendment be their salvation?
Continue Reading COVID-19: Are Your Constitutional Rights Quarantined Too?

Closed sign. (Sorry we are closed)

Wanting to diversify his investments, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux signed a franchise agreement with GA Fitness last year. Construction by Big Daddy’s contractor Bill Toosuit is scheduled to be completed for in time for an early May grand opening in the new strip center owned and managed by Mawl & Mawl. Last week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s mayor and the state governor prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and directed that all bars, restaurants and gymnasiums close. Now that gymnasiums are prohibited from opening, Big Daddy’s business is almost certain to fail, and Mawl & Mawl loses a tenant. If Big Daddy stops construction and buys out his current lease obligation, Bill Toosuit loses his construction project and Mawl & Mawl loses a long-term tenant. Can Big Daddy get out of his lease obligations? And his construction contract? Are there other options to get to a win-win?
Continue Reading Can COVID-19 Trigger a Force Majeure Defense?

Woman hangs a card with information about the store closing on a shop window due to the coronavirusWanting to diversify his investments, Ernest “Big Daddy” Bux signed a franchise agreement with GA Fitness last year. Construction by Big Daddy’s contractor Bill Toosuit is scheduled to be completed for in time for an early May grand opening in the new strip center owned and managed by Mawl & Mawl. Last week, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town’s mayor and the state governor prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and directed that all bars, restaurants and gymnasiums close. Now that gymnasiums are prohibited from opening, Big Daddy’s business is almost certain to fail, and Mawl & Mawl loses a tenant. If Big Daddy stops construction and buys out his current lease obligation, Bill Toosuit loses his construction project and Mawl & Mawl loses a long-term tenant. Can Big Daddy get out of his lease obligations? And his construction contract? Are there other options to get to a win-win?
Continue Reading Can COVID-19 Make a Contract Impossible to Perform?